Old Guard House of Japan’s Imperial Palace

A Preferred View

This is the view of this particular guard tower I prefer. It sits in stout defense of the unseen palace behinds its wall. It, guarded by a moat that would leave attackers undefended in crossing. The think is just outside the frame is a mass of new Japan. Big buildings and construction equipment abound. Behind is a massive parking lot. I don’t show you these. This photo looks old, but was taken in 2016. I guess in many ways our fortresses and our photographs aren’t unlike ourselves.

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 11 April, 2016
  • Focal length: 30mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/50s
  • Title: Old Guard House of Japan's Imperial Palace

Lanterns on Display for Sakura

Cherry Trees!

I have wanted to visit Japan in late March or early April some time for the Sakura. There are numerous places in the world that have flowering trees. Our own state is gorgeous with dogwood, redbud and apricot trees, but getting to experience Hanami (flower viewing) in person is something a bit otherworldly. This location is in Ueno Park, a part of Tokyo I had not yet visited. Lanterns had been strung to keep the viewing going even after dark and there are hundreds of people and groups having a picnic under the falling petals.

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 9 April, 2016
  • Focal length: 23mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/200s
  • Title: Lanterns on Display for Sakura

Kyoto Temple

Not All Who Wander are Lost

I went on a walk searching for a temple. I got lost and it started to rain…hard.

It often happens to me during my travels. I tend to get lost, I even TRY to get lost. Sure I have my phone, so I am never TRULY lost, but believe me…I get lost. I also like to walk places. I feel like I get to see more and see the color of places if I walk. Sometimes I am detrimentally stubborn about it, but the wander is hard to satisfy.

This day, my wandering soul found this beautiful place at the top of a small hill. I am not entirely sure where in Kyoto it is, but this entry was very beautiful and nestled quietly away allowing for reflection. I generally don’t care for people in my photos, but this couple seemed to fit.

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/4
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 15 November, 2015
  • Focal length: 17mm
  • ISO: 2000
  • Shutter speed: 1/800s
  • Title: Kyoto Temple

The Snail that Said Slow Down

Finding Meaning

I think, if you listen, the universe sends you messages. I was hiking Fushimi Inari-taisha in Kyoto, Japan. The day was grey and rainy, but I had arrived early before the truly overwhelming mass of people. I also knew the physical toll the Kyoto mountains would take on many tourists and the further I hiked, the fewer people I would find. Furiously I climbed, passing people, stopping only for photos, perhaps I missed some things. All of a sudden, I came upon a lake surrounded by this fence, it was a welcome serene sight and a respite for the ever upward climb.

It was then I noticed the snail, alone on the fence. People hurried by all to involved to notice the snail. In a flash, the Sun broke gloriously through the clouds and reflected power from the surface of the still water. The snail continued all the same, but I heard the message. The snail was saying, “slow down”.

The rest of my hike was alive with light, that danced off the rain drops still clinging to the endless Torii Gates of Fushimi Inari-taisha. I did slow down, people came and went, but my speed now allowed them to pass by with ease, and me to linger to find things hidden in the Japanese wood. I took some of the best photos of my trip, because I listened.

Photo Technical Info

Traditional and Modern Tools in Japan

Turning Japanese

If it seems like I have Japan on the brain lately it’s because I DO! I am headed to Japan in a few months for the Cherry Blossom season! I have wanted to be in Japan during this time for a long time and only missed it by a few weeks in 2015. Hopefully this year I will get lucky since the time from bloom to fall is VERY short!

This is a collection of tools used by the caretakers of Meiji Jingu. I love how there is a mix of traditional brooms and modern tools as well.

Photo Technical Info

Traditionally Dressed Japanese Kids at Meiji Shrine

Finding History

There is an old adage in Hollywood traditional ascribed to W.C. Fields, but universally known, “Never work with animals or children”. To those not acting however, they are like gold! What could be more adorable than two small children all dressed up in traditional garb to visit Meiji Jingu in Tokyo.

I am always looking for some elements of time or even timelessness, contrasts between the old and new. Does this work in that sense?

Photo Technical Info

White Japanese Chrysanthemum

Huge Flowers

My mother is the gardener in the family. I realized very quickly after moving into my own home, some years ago that I prefer to see gardens rather than participate in their cultivation. Visiting the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo, something I most always do when visiting Tokyo I found these Chrysanthemums. This particular white was much bigger than a softball or my hand. I imagine it takes a great deal of patience to grow a flower this large and beautiful.

Photo Technical Info

Torii Gates in the Rain at Fushimi Inari-taisha, Kyoto Japan

Tripadvisor Hell

When I arrived at Fushimi Inari-taisha in Kyoto Japan there were a ton of people. I was also greeted with row after row of flags proclaiming the site on the best in Kyoto according to Tripadvisor (le sigh!). It’s not that I dislike Tripadvisor, on the contrary, they are often a relied upon site for travel info, but being voted one of the best also means TOURISTS!

I was quickly overwhelmed, despite arriving early with the throngs of people. I realized in order to find some degree of privacy I would need to do one of my favorite things…hike! Fushimi Inari-taisha is a vast tract of land expanding up into the surrounding mountainside. Many of the temples are a considerable and arduous cardiovascular trek into the hills, and soon I was leaving the masses behind and spending some much needed time in the Japanese wilderness. In the end I have to say, Tripadvisor got it right Fushimi Inari-taisha is one of the best sites in Kyoto!

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/2.8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 15 November, 2015
  • Focal length: 16mm
  • ISO: 6400
  • Location: 34° 57.996′ 0″ N 135° 46.5252′ 0″ E
  • Shutter speed: 1/160s
  • Title: Torii Gates in the Rain at Fushimi Inari-taisha, Kyoto Japan

Fox Prayer Card

Shinto Fox Prayer Cards

The major Shinto shrine in Kyoto, Japan is Fushimi Inari Taisha. It is one of the most amazing religious places I have see first hand (up there with Notre Dame and La Sagrada Familia). The Tori Gates go on and on and on, winding through the adjacent mountains and forests. The builders of this place must have loved nature or they wanted to get away from the THRONGS of people at the main entrance.

I have seen prayer cards before in Japan, but Fushimi Inari Taisha had several including these great fox faces. The fox is a messenger in Shinto (I am NO Shinto expert) and who better to carry your prayers! Many of the people drawing were quite good artists! This anime girl caught my attention among the row and rows of prayers.

Photo Technical Info

Red Japanese Maple Leaves Over a Zen Garden

Zen Rock Gardens

In my short time in Kyoto, I saw SO many gardens. You literally run into them everywhere. I am one who has no patience for gardening, but I love the artistry OF gardening. This latest trip to Japan gave me a appreciation for imperfection. You can make something perfect, but in some things, say a handcrafted tea cup…the Japanese prize the imperfect. These leave are as I found them…imperfect. The pebbles in the karesansui are not uniform in color. My control of depth of field in the photograph was not how I saw it.

These imperfections are, but an illusion for all are perfection.

Photo Technical Info